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Free at Noon Flashback: Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band guide with guitars on their psychedelic sonic journey

Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

I wonder how many guitar strings Chris Forsyth goes through in a year — or a month, or even a day. Because in just the forty-five minute span of today’s Free at Noon performance — or should I say, jam-fest — we lost more than a couple of brave string souls in the name of sweet, sweet music.

After the always-lovely Helen Leicht welcomed the Philly guitarist and his crew, The Solar Motel Band, on stage, hers would be the last voice the crowd would hear for the coming ten minutes. Instead, guitar gladly took its place.

Because, really, there’s no need for words when you can shred instead. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Deadfellow plays the lead in a postmodern rock drama

Deadfellow | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

Deadfellow’s Hayden Sammak is quite a character. Burgundy velvet-jacketed and long-bearded, the Philly local looked every bit the old-fashioned classic rock n roller this Free at Noon as he drawled sweet verses of love and California livin’ while retro, psychadelic sounds bounced about.

But something just didn’t fit with this picture-perfect 60’s throwback. And if you’ve ever read an interview with the Deadfellow frontman, this disconnect makes perfect sense. Because despite the shiny exterior of Deadfellow’s latest album, Mescalifornia: A California Dream, the intent seems to be more sarcastic and critical in nature; where Hammak harps on a present-day shallow culture towards love. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Gordi bridges heady synth-rock and anthemic pop at World Cafe Live

Gordi | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

After playing a Thursday night gig at Johnny Brenda’s and before heading down I-95 to play D.C.’s Songbyrd Music House, singer-songwriter Sophie Payten — known onstage as Gordi — stoped by World Cafe Live for a Free at Noon concert performance.

Sonically, the Sydney, Australia singer and songwriter manages to exist in numerous stylistic zones simultaneously. After opening on the majestic “Myriad,” a simmering spacey synth-driven track, the mood shifted with “All The Light,” a poppy, Paula Cole-ish number peppered with samples. After that taste of her forthcoming Reservoir LP, out August 25th, Gordi dove back to her Clever Disguise EP for “Wanting,” her acoustic guitar strums providing an organic counterpoint to the drumpad rhythm. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Jidenna commands the crowd in dapper, energized fashion

Jidenna at WXPN’s Free At Noon Concert on 7/7/17 | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

Earlier this week, when I first perused who was going to be performing at the upcoming Free at Noon, I was severely (and happily) surprised. To be honest, I was so surprised that I double checked to make sure the interweb was correct. A rapper? For Free at Noon? You sure, Google? Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Manchester Orchestra captivates in soaring, momentous volumes

Manchester Orchestra | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

If there’s one thing that Manchester Orchestra showed the packed Free at Noon crowd today, it’s that they have an insane superpower to effortlessly travel through moments of stripped, aching softness to hard-hitting, soaring volumes of power.

Being that it’s been ten years since their debut album, I’m Like I’m a Virgin Losing a Child, Manchester Orchestra’s sound has understandably morphed and grown along with them over time. Playing a few new tracks from their upcoming album, A Black Mile To The Surface, the Atlanta five-piece demonstrated a shift from heavy guitar jam builds to a more atmospheric kind of grandness. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: A rollercoaster ride with Imelda May

Imelda May – Free At Noon 6/23/17 | Photo by Rich McKie / WXPN

If it’s good enough for Bob Dylan, it’s sure as heck good enough for us. In an interview on his own website, the legendary singer/songwriter listed Imelda May‘s new record in the same breath as Iggy Pop, Valerie June and The Stereophonics – and boy do we understand why.

The Dublin-born singer took us on a musical and emotional roller coaster ride at today’s WXPN Free At Noon Concert at World Cafe Live. Though her complete 7 piece band preceded her stage entrance, May started off her set with “Call Me” – a peaceful song, with only a lightly strummed guitar complimenting her quiet voice. Sitting on a stool under a single spotlight, you could hear a pin drop in the room — perhaps leading many to expect a laid-back show on this rainy Friday afternoon — but Imelda soon showed she had much more up her sleeve. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Sheer Mag’s volume knows no limits

Sheer Mag
Sheer Mag | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

The track names on Sheer Mag‘s compilation album are in all-caps on Bandcamp. The stylization is a fair choice considering it’s hard to remember, at least for me, a time when World Cafe Live has reached the volume the band brought to the venue during Friday’s weekly Free At Noon concert. For 40 minutes, the Philly rockers emitted nonstop, ear-ringing rock n’ roll in its purest form. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Benjamin Booker brings the heat back to Philly

Benjamin Booker | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

About a month back during the beauty that is Non-COMM, a heat wave struck Philly. Just as the amazing artists departed, so too did the fervent warmth. But today, two Non-COMM entities have returned: a sweltering spell and bluesy rocker, Benjamin Booker. Coincidence? I think not. I’m no weatherperson, but after experiencing Booker’s smooth ‘n sultry, rocking ‘n rolling Free at Noon set today, I’m concluding Booker’s steamy vocals and heavy guitar jams are the catalyst. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Kevin Morby highlights City Music ahead of a holiday weekend

Kevin Morby | Photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

Recalling Glen Campbell’s elaborate outfits, Kevin Morby stood at the center of the World Cafe Live stage dressed in a white suit with a cascade of music notes down the side and rhinestone initials on the lapels.

It may seem a little goofy, but it’s all about balance with the Texas native: lighthearted and charming on the outside, deep and introspective on the inside. Both qualities were on display today as he and and his band joined the Free at Noon crowd in support of his forthcoming City Music effort.

Continue reading →